— Desert Island Pieces —
Ruminations on a Troubled Planet

Dedicated to Rebels, Idealists, Individualists and Passionate Celebrators of Life Worldwide

Commissioned by the Bakken Trio


Piano Trio and Electronics


I. The Loneliness of the Sun


II. Aloiloi, Pakuikui — The Fast Shallows


III. Ghosts of the Evening Tide


IV. The Roaring of the Moon

Program Note:

The work explores states of isolation and passion. The Desert Island is the earth, or the individual, or the perceived isolation of the individual, the myopic view from the crowded jungle within. There is a blurring between the reflection on the surface of ape eyes and the neuron-powered dreamscape behind the optic nerve.

What happens when one is alone, without another’s cerebral drift to check the wandering of the reality curve?
The gulls have voices, filled with outrage, anguish and disdain. They sing out over the waves, but cannot pierce the surface. Below, the ageless tortoises glide slowly, nonchalant in their deep green canyons.

The sky is brilliant blue, and hot, and the water is brilliant and cool, deep and silent.

... and so at last return to the sea ...

The waves crash endlessly overhead, endlessly they smash the sand and slap with giant, heavy hand the glassy face of the beach.

Underneath, Silently, the roar of heavy current with cold, strong finger pushes hard on terrestrial ear drums, and the ancient dance continues — half-remembered songs consummated unconsciously in the endless watery moonlight.

March 31, 2003

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Joseph Waters (born September 16, 1952 in Jackson, Michigan, USA) studied composition at Yale University, the Universities of Oregon and Minnesota, and Stockholms Musikpedagogiska Institut. His primary teachers were Jacob Druckman, Bernard Rands, Roger Reynolds, Dominick Argento, Martin Bresnick, Robert Kyr and Jeffrey Stolet.

An active composer of acoustic, electro-acoustic and inter-disciplinary works, Joseph Waters belongs to the first generation of classical composers that grew up playing in rock bands. Throughout his career he has been intrigued by the connections, confluences, and tensions which entangle and bind the great musics of Europe and Africa. Much of his work involves interactions between electronic and acoustic instruments. He has been involved in Inter-disciplinary and collaborative works on and off since the early 1980's.

His works are regularly performed around the world.

Joseph Waters is the Artistic Director of the New West Electro-Acoustic Music Organization (NWEAMO) in Portland, Oregon. He also founded and co-directed Network for New Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the 1980s.

He has received numerous awards in composition, including National Endowment for the Arts/Rockefeller Foundation (through the Painted Bride Arts Center, Philadelphia), Regional Arts and Culture Council and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grants.

He is Associate Professor of Music and Director of Electro-Acoustic and Media Composition at San Diego State University.